Historically Speaking

Making sense of it all!

Heavens To Murgatroyd

Posted by Elyse Bruce on June 21, 2010

The phrase “Heavens to Murgatroyd” is considered to be a mild oath even though Snagglepuss from The Yogi Bear Show was known to use the phrase on a regular basis.  Before Snagglepuss, Bert Lahr  — the actor who played the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz — spoke the phrase in the 1944 film Meet the People starring Dick Powell and Lucille Ball.

But who was Murgatroyd and what did he do that made him so famous that his name is known to this very day?

The surname is derived from the Medieval personal name Margaret and the Middle English word “royd” which means “clearing.”  So Mergatroyd is actually Margaret’s clearing.

Murgatroyd is a family name in the English aristocracy, found written down in books in Yorkshire where the family held a seat as Lords of the Manor prior to the Battle of Hastings in 1066.    The language of the courts after the Battle of Hastings was french for the next three centuries however, the name resurfaced in 1379 when John Mergetrode was listed as holding estates in the shire.

So when you hear someone say “Heavens to Murgatroyd” that’s quite a distance from beautiful place to beautiful place!

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One Response to “Heavens To Murgatroyd”

  1. Kim Appel said

    Ahhhh, I would have never guessed that is where the expression came from in a million years. I thought it was a made up word too.

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